AllgeierFamily001Religious Vocation is a Family Affair

In the afterglow of Christmas comes January and Vocation Awareness Week (January 9-15). Pictured here is a family which could write volumes on vocations—precisely because seven of the eleven children fulfilled a church vocation! Meet Mr. and Mrs. Henry Allgeier (Fort Wayne, IN) and their family in a 1926 posing.

Three of the boys became Christian Brothers (l to r): Br. Dacius Sebastian, robe 1915; Br. Gabriel Thomas, robe 1907; and Br. Edward John, robe 1911.

Each made notable contributions to the legacy Baltimore District. Three of the girls entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Another son became Reverend (later Monsignor) Nicholas Allgeier. A remarkable story and a phenomenon that will probably never be equaled again in the United States!

The 7th Inning Stretch…A Brother’s Idea

SeventhInningStretch001Brother Jasper had them on their feet! The long winter is past us now, and if we open our mental windows high enough, we’ll hear the crack of the bat and behold the emerald-green infield grass. Baseball returns to North America again, and proffers a good opportunity for a history lesson—or reminder—regarding Lasallian legacy. Some baseball historians attribute the 7th inning stretch to our own Brother Jasper of Mary (Brennan) of Manhattan College in 1882. Brother Jasper was both the baseball coach and the prefect of discipline, and when the restless and fidgety students of Manhattan College were supposed to be behaving themselves in the stands as their school played a semi-pro team in NYC that year, Brother Jasper found a solution to the problem. It worked, and we’ve been doing it ever since…but for non-disciplinary reasons!

Feast Day Becomes Politically Correct

DLSwithBoy-only DLSwithBoyandGirl001Although the Church celebrates the feast of St. John Baptist de La Salle on April 7 (the date of his death in 1719), this was not always the case. For decades, the traditional day was May 15, as remembered by anyone over age 50. Howard Brodie, a Lasallian student from Chicago (and later a World War II artist), drew this sketch depicting De La Salle and a single student…the boy depicted in the image. However, when De La Salle High School in New Orleans went co-ed in the 1990s, the administration asked the school’s art department to adapt Brodie’s sketch to reflect changing realities. The image above is the result. It appeared on page 1 of “Lasallian Signum Fidei” (March 1996), published by the Christian Brothers in Don Mills, Ontario (Toronto District).


Bishop Walsh High School

CumberlandBW001Flying high above Bishop Walsh, high up in the Maryland mountains. Scores of DENA Brothers and colleagues—especially those in NY and New England—have heard of Bishop Walsh in Cumberland (Western Maryland) before, but have not visited there. With the Brothers withdrawing from the school in July 2011, this might be the “last” look! This aerial photograph came from the 1970 yearbook. The school and Brothers’ house (just above the school) have changed little 41 years later. The De La Salle Christian Brothers have long been a presence in mountainous Cumberland. Their first two years (1851-1853) centered on teaching at St. Patrick’s Grade School downtown. The Brothers returned in 1907 and conducted all-male La Salle High School, which closed in 1966 in order to create the new co-ed Bishop Walsh High School atop Haystack Mountain. Renamed Bishop Walsh School in 2002 due to the merging of K-12 classes, and divided into three departments under one roof, the school will continue. Missing, however, will be the small group of men whose impact on Catholic education in “Mountain” Maryland has been incalculable for 106 years


School Pictures at St. Gabriel’s, 1953

st-gabes-ny-1953There they are—18 bright-eyed youngsters, along with their teacher, awaiting the photographer’s flash bulb during the 1953-54 school year at St. Gabriel’s Parish School in East Elmhurst (Queens), NY. The school originally opened in 1940, and if the viewer has a keen eye, they will notice that this classroom (like the others) is octagonal in shape—an innovation for that time which brought recognition from the local Chamber of Commerce. The Christian Brothers started teaching the upper elementary boys at St. Gabriel’s in 1952. Neighborhood demographic transitions began during the 1960s, however. The boys and girls departments combined to create one unified school in 1972. In 2006, the Brothers completed an agreement with the Diocese of Brooklyn whereby the latter passed the day-to-day control of the school to a Board of Directors, while the Diocese maintained canonical sponsorship. Hence, the new identity of “La Salle School at St. Gabriel’s” was announced in 2008. But unavoidable financial struggles and low enrollment brought the final closure of the school this summer (2011). Brother Edward Shields, who worked there for an amazing 38 years, states that it was the last Lasallian eight-grade elementary school remaining in the US.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Scranton!

ScrantonStPattysDay_1940sSeated: Brothers Elias Andrew Woleski, Dominic Luke Doyle, Edward of Mary Bork, Eulogius James Coughlin, Florus Timothy Rollo, Daniel Henry Barry, Godwin John Condon, and Eliseus Leonard Brennan Standing: Brothers Erminus Stanislaus Duzy and Florence Christopher Buskinsky

It’s St. Patrick’s Day in Scranton, circa early 1940s. The Christian Brothers’ community at the University of Scranton registered sufficient chapel time during the morning hours to do some serious partying that night. This photo was snapped just before 7 p.m., which begs the question “Did everyone make it to the chapel at 5 a.m. the next morning?”—as the Rule prescribed in those days. In Scranton, the Brothers conducted St. Thomas HS (1897-1939) and St. Thomas College (1897-1938, which was renamed the University of Scranton in 1938). The Brothers were compelled to withdraw in 1942, and the Jesuits replaced them. Old-timers in the Scranton area still remember the Brothers quite favorably.


Dr. King Comes to Philadelphia

DrKinginPhilly001February brings us Black History Month, and an appropriate image comes from the first page of the September 30, 1966, issue of the weekly La Salle Collegian. Although Dr. King never visited La Salle College (now University), he was scheduled to speak at a rally at the Philadelphia Arena (46th and Market Streets) on October 9 of that year. The rally was endorsed by numerous civic and religious officials, including the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and the young men of La Salle College were among those who were encouraged to attend. The sketch of Dr. King was drawn by Steve Singer, the Managing Editor of the La Salle Collegian.

1988: Celebrating 150 Years in Yonkers

YonkersStMarys150th1998St. Mary’s (Yonkers, NY) celebrated its 150th Anniversary in grand style in 1998 when Brother Robert McCann and three Sisters of Charity (garbed in the traditional habit) paraded through the streets of the city via back-in-the-day transportation.

La Salle High School, Cumberland, MD : Winter 1958

Feb2010PhotoLHSCumberland001It took much more than a mere inch of snow to declare a winter holiday at the old La Salle HS in Cumberland (MD), nestled in the Allegheny Mountains. Not even many Brothers know that the Christian Brothers had taught in Cumberland “back in the day” (1851-1853), and then returned in 1907 to start up the old La Salle. La Salle closed in 1966 when the new (and co-ed) Bishop Walsh HS opened. This wintry scene is from the 1957-58 school year.

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s…Br. Ed Sheehy?

BrEdSheehyDunkingBasketballSo it’s not a 100-year vintage photo, but it’s a classic just the same! This promo for La Salle University’s Admissions Office debuted in 1999 and features Br. Ed Sheehy — La Salle’s inimitable History prof and Basketball moderator. In the 2000-2001 academic year, La Salle’s Historical Society even sold tee-shirts bearing this photograph plus “La Salle’s Airness” on the back, and “The Man, The Myth, The Legend” on the front. With Br. Ed demonstrating such graceful athleticism and basketball wizardry, the rest of us are mere mortals!

The Circus Comes to Somers

SomersCircus_BrAquinasT_Color SomersCircus_BrAquinasThomasIt’s spring time, and memories of the circus—no matter how big or how small—arriving in our hometowns might be a vivid memory for us. Brother Aquinas Thomas appears on the far left of this photo. A longtime teacher of psychology at Manhattan College, he was formerly a psychiatric social work supervisor at Lincoln Hall (Lincolndale, NY); the photo (1940s?) is definitely associated with Lincoln Hall. Today, the town of Somers (NY) calls itself “the cradle of the American circus,” and the truck advertises the Somers Circus Museum (a huge circus diorama) as “the Greatest Little Show on Earth.” It is likely beginning a tour at Lincoln Hall to amuse the youngsters.

St. James Parochial School, Brooklyn, NY 1892-1893

St.-James-Brooklyn-1892All eyes concentrate intently on the camera during this photo in the 1892-1893 school year at St. James Parochial School in Brooklyn. The lettering of this school appears in the center banner. At least three of the boys (center) are donning military-style uniforms. Himself wearing a bowler and a mantle (the latter being a part of the official Brothers’ garb for decades), Brother Robert assumes a Napoleonic stance and a no-nonsense demeanor. The framed images are (from left to right): St. John Baptist de La Salle; the Pope (likely Pope Pius IX); Christopher Columbus; and a local bishop, likely the recently-deceased Bishop John Loughlin, the first Bishop of Brooklyn (1853-1891) and namesake of Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School.

No, it’s not a prison….

The-Yard-1885Perhaps we all have seen too many movies of this genre! This photograph is very likely the New York Catholic Protectory, in 1885 located in West Chester, NY (then located beyond the limits of The Bronx). This site is now the part of The Bronx known as Parkchester. These at-risk boys were taught (and frankly “herded”) in large numbers by the Christian Brothers, which was the common practice of the day at such institutions. It would appear that the boys are ending their recess or break time, and are being lined up to return into classroom instruction or the learning of useful trades. Do you notice the two Brothers wearing bowlers (hats), both at the extreme left? One is on the ground floor and the other (perhaps the director) peers down from the third floor, arms folded.

4th of July Break

ammendale_4thJuly_1957_color ammendale_4thJuly_1957It’s the evening of July 4, 1957. The scene is a ballfield at the Baltimore District Novitiate at Ammendale, MD. The Novices and Postulants are celebrating a glorious 4th of July with sparklers, while the older Brothers, sitting on a bench, enjoy the presence of the younger members of the household. Clad in white shirts are (left to right) Brothers Edwin, Ephrem Edmund, Joseph, Edwin Anselm, and Erminus Joseph. Brother Anselm was the President of La Salle College during the 1930s and Brother Erminus Joseph was the esteemed Director of Novices for two decades (1942-1962).  As relaxing as the Fourth of July was in American houses of formation in those days, the very next day was “business as usual” with everyone returning to their standard routines.

March of the Penguins

August-Photo001This is not a Hollywood-style invasion of the Men in Black on some distant, alien planet! That’s the way it was in the Baltimore District each August (back in the day) during the prescribed Recreation of Rule at the Brothers’ retreats at Ocean Rest (Ocean City, NJ). During each week-long retreat, the Brothers donned their black robes for their meals, chapel exercises, and conferences, and they even walked the beach (around 31st Street) for about forty-five minutes or so after supper, before the beginning  of evening prayer. This section of Ocean City of the 1940s and 1950s was much less populated than today. Nevertheless, at least one set of neighbors good-naturedly referred to the nightly spectacle as “The March of the Penguins.”

Historic Oaklands

oaklandsYou are looking at one of the most historic — and unique — Brothers’ residences in all of North America. This is “Oaklands,” originally built in Toronto as a private residence in 1860, and then expanded by successive generations. Purchased as the new site of De La Salle College, the entire school moved into the mansion in 1931. This was the home of De La Salle during the 1930s and 1940s, until an entirely new school structure was built to the left of the photograph. “Oaklands” then became solely the residence of the Christian Brothers for six decades…until June 2010. Because of the small number of Brothers residing there, and because of the school’s need for office space and other priorities, the Brothers moved to La Salle Manor in nearby Scarborough, Ontario. The stately residence known as “Oaklands,” however, will long remain an integral part of the De La Salle College campus.

Student’s Reward: Honors from a Brother

Br-Cyril-St-Johns-TrainingBrother Cyril, a placement officer at St. John’s Training School (Uxbridge, Ontario), happily bestows a sportsmanship trophy to a youngster at this school for at-risk boys in the Toronto District during the 1960s.


Calvert Hall vs. Loyola: 1961 — longest of its kind in the U.S.

CHC-game-program001November brings Thanksgiving Day, and Thanksgiving in Greater Baltimore is synonymous with turkey —  and a football showdown. Since 1920, one of the nation’s oldest Catholic high school sports rivalries, generally played on Thanksgiving mornings, has been the Calvert Hall Cardinals vs. the Loyola Dons (our Jesuit rivals). In fact, the Calvert Hall-Loyola showdown is the longest continuous prep school football rivalry in the United States. For decades, the game was played at Memorial Stadium (home of the Colts) and then, during more recent times, at M&T Bank Stadium (the Ravens’ home), usually before a sizeable crowd. Although Calvert Hall defeated Loyola 9-3 in the first clash (1920), the Dons have won 48 times overall, with 34 victories for Calvert Hall, and 8 ties. Pictured here is the cover of the oldest program of this rivalry (November 23, 1961; 15 cents; played at Memorial Stadium) in the Archives of the legacy Baltimore District, when the Dons prevailed, 38-12.

“An old fashioned Christmas from an old fashioned crowd.”

Spring-Garden-Comm-1986001At Christmas season of 1986, the Community of Spring Garden Street, near Center City Philadelphia, wanted their community’s Christmas card to mimic vintage photo poses. Their version — complete with stern demeanors, Napoleonic positioning of hands, and the donning of caps or hats—is quite entertaining. Seated: Brothers Joseph Willard, Kevin Erb (Director), Thomas Chadwick, Colman Coogan Standing: Brothers Hugh Maguire, Kevin McManus, Thomas Gerrow  The Spring Garden Community operated from 1972 until 2004.  Most of its members worked within the St. Gabriel’s System or at West Catholic HS. One treasured tradition was the hours-long party hosted for Brothers and others every January 1, with Philly’s huge Mummer’s Parade as the main event.

Gene Autry & the Men in Black

scan0004_750Posing for a photo at Lincoln Hall (NY) are cowboy movie star Gene Autry, an unknown priest, Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York, and Brother Austin Charles.

March 1959: Superior General Visits Canada

Toronto-Brothers1959As his extensive tour (November 1958 to March 1959) of Latin America reached its latter stages, Brother Nicet Joseph (Superior General) made six visits in Canada. One of these was at Cardinal Newman HS in Montreal, which was one of the English-speaking schools in that city conducted by the Christian Brothers of the Toronto District. Brother Joseph and his entourage stood at the high table (nearest curtain), while all of the seated Brothers were teaching in Montreal and vicinity. The Toronto District Archives has a larger framed version of this historic photograph, which was published in the Institute Bulletin in October 1959.